Gordie Howe Bridge project unveils plan to benefit Detroiters

For 11 years now, Simone Sagovac has been fighting for the hundreds homes in southwest Detroit that will soon be in the shadow of a new $5 billion Gordie Howe Bridge.

Sagovac is a member of the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition.

"The bridge is going to bring many benefits for employment and lots of things are going to happen because the international trade. But a lot of people don't realize how much the local community has had to sacrifice over the years," she said.

On Friday, she crossed the border to Windsor where it announced that those directly affected by the bridge will see about $8 million Canadian dollars that will go toward community improvements -- $4 million in Canada and $4 million in southwest Detroit. 

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"Getting things that local people who are going to be affected by this bridge in the long term can benefit from," she said.

That money will go to basic things, like furnaces, windows and air filtertration systems. Part of the $4 million will be used to fix roofs of houses but a lot of people are wondering when it will get here.

"Construction timeline is scattered. There are lots of different aspects to this enormous $5 plus  billion dollar project but there are cranes here today, there are telephone poles and street signs about to come down. There have been road closures where the bridge footprint is already. So people are more and more going to start seeing signs of the project actually being constructed," Sagovac said.

About 250 families have already opted to take part in a Detroit Land Bank home swap. If their home was in the direct path of the bridge, they were able to chose to get a house from the land bank.  About 300-400 other families that stay could be eligible for this improvement. 

The city will hold an informational meeting on June 26 at the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority Office on Vernor Highway.